Rose hips are the cherry-sized red fruits of the rose bush left behind after the bloom has died. Although nearly all rose bushes produce rose hips, the tastiest for eating purposes come from the Rosa rugosa variety. Their flavor is fruity and spicy, much like the cranberry.
Rose hips have been used since the Stone Age but the discovery of rose hip’s high Vitamin C content occurred during World War II. In this period of citrus fruit shortages, the British government organized the harvesting of rose hips in England as a substitute source of Vitamin C. The fruits are harvested after the first frost when they become fully-colored, but not overripe.
The fruit acids and pectin in rose hip tea is a mild diuretic and laxative. It is used to improve, and relieve the symptoms of kidney disorders, or to help in the case of mild constipation. To make the tea simply pour a cup boiling water over a tablespoon of crushed, dried hips and let steep. After straining out any pieces of the hips, add honey if desired and drink.
The seed oil extracted from rose hips is of value in reducing scar tissue and stretch marks caused by pregnancy and birthing, due to its tissue regeneration properties.
Resist the temptation to harvest the hips off the cultivated roses in parks and gardens. They have substantially less Vitamin C in them, and will potentially have been sprayed with pesticides.